From a dialogue of cultures to a dialogue of ideas: The Swedish theosophist Emanuel Swedenborg in the perception of the German psychiatrist Karl Leonhard in the context of the current discussion

Mikhail Koryshev , Ekaterina Ivanova , Katja Petersen, Katja Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article completes a series of works on the reception of Scandinavian and Dutch cultural heritage in the works of the outstanding German psychiatrist and psychologist Karl Leonhard (1904-1988). His assessments already deserve attention because the portraits of remarkable artists, writers, and thinkers presented in his works, thanks to the research and undoubted literary talent of their author, on the one hand, go beyond the usual pathographies in terms of depth of analysis and mastery of presentation. On the other hand, the portraits serve as artifacts of an era in the history of medicine, when on the foundation of a cultural dialogue between Russia and Germany a unique dialogue of the German and Russian psychiatric thought developed - something that the historical vicissitudes of the twentieth century could not prevent. The authors of the article make an attempt to bring together the approaches available to the history of culture to study the perception of the personality and work of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) as reflected in Leonhard’s last book. Leonhard’s assessments not only capture a certain period in the reception history of the Swedish thinker and naturalist in German culture - they are a monument to the peculiar naturalistic culture of German nosological psychiatry, inscribed in the history of medical thought. Clinical experience leads the German psychiatrist to conclude that Swedenborg’s diagnosis of schizophrenia in its traditional Kraepelinian sense, which the Russian school of psychiatry is inclined to follow, is wrong, but the German psychiatrist himself comes to the conclusion that Swedenborg has an amalgam type of psychosis - phonemic confabulation paraphrenia. Following Leonhard, the authors of the article examine Swedenborg’s works, the testimonies of his contemporaries about him and his family as well as reproduce the picture of symptoms of mental illness taking into account the latest historical, cultural and medical-psychological works about the Swedish mystic. In their critical analysis, the authors emphasize the relevance of the classification of Leonhard’s endogenous psychoses, drawing the reader’s attention to the evidence about Swedenborg’s emotional-volitional and cognitive sphere within the historical and cultural context of 18th century Sweden. In conclusion, the authors announce the publication of the full text of Leonhard’s essay translated into Russian with historical, cultural and medical-psychological commentary.

Translated title of the contributionОТ ДИАЛОГА КУЛЬТУР К ДИАЛОГУ ИДЕЙ: ШВЕДСКИЙ ТЕОСОФ ЭММАНУИЛ СВЕДЕНБОРГ В ВОСПРИЯТИИ НЕМЕЦКОГО ПСИХИАТРА КАРЛА ЛЕОНГАРДА В КОНТЕКСТЕ АКТУАЛЬНОЙ ДИСКУССИИ
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-408
JournalСКАНДИНАВСКАЯ ФИЛОЛОГИЯ (SCANDINAVICA)
Volume18
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020

Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Keywords

  • SWEDENBORG
  • Karl Leonhard
  • PATHOGRAPHY
  • THEOSOPHY
  • ENDOGENOUS PSYCHOSIS
  • PHONEMIC CONFABULATION PARAPHRENIA
  • RUSSIAN AND GERMAN SCHOOLS OF PSYCHIATRY
  • NOSOLOGICAL AND SYNDROMOLOGICAL APPROACH
  • PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPOLOGY

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